Breaking the Wall

January 22, 2021

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Orem,UT,United States

Member Since:

Jan 27, 1986



Goal Type:

Olympic Trials Qualifier

Running Accomplishments:

Best marathon: 2:23:57 (2007, St. George). Won the Top of Utah Marathon twice (2003,2004). Won the USATF LDR circuit in Utah in 2006.

Draper Days 5 K 15:37 (2004)

Did not know this until June 2012, but it turned out that I've been running with spina bifida occulta in L-4 vertebra my entire life, which explains the odd looking form, struggles with the top end speed, and the poor running economy (cannot break 16:00 in 5 K without pushing the VO2 max past 75).  


Short-Term Running Goals:

Qualify for the US Olympic Trials. With the standard of 2:19 on courses with the elevation drop not exceeding 450 feet this is impossible unless I find an uncanny way to compensate for the L-4 defect with my muscles. But I believe in miracles.

Long-Term Running Goals:

2:08 in the marathon. Become a world-class marathoner. This is impossible unless I find a way to fill the hole in L-4 and make it act healthy either by growing the bone or by inserting something artificial that is as good as the bone without breaking anything important around it. Science does not know how to do that yet, so it will take a miracle. But I believe in miracles.


I was born in 1973. Grew up in Moscow, Russia. Started running in 1984 and so far have never missed more than 3 consecutive days. Joined the LDS Church in 1992, and came to Provo, Utah in 1993 to attend BYU. Served an LDS mission from 1994-96 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Got married soon after I got back. My wife Sarah and I are parents of eleven children: Benjamin, Jenny, Julia, Joseph, Jacob, William, Stephen, Matthew,  Mary,  Bella.  and Leigha. We home school our children.

I am a software engineer/computer programmer/hacker whatever you want to call it, and I am currently working for RedX. Aside from the Fast Running Blog, I have another project to create a device that is a good friend for a fast runner. I called it Fast Running Friend.

Favorite Quote:

...if we are to have faith like Enoch and Elijah we must believe what they believed, know what they knew, and live as they lived.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie


Favorite Blogs:

Miles:This week: 0.00 Month: 188.26 Year: 188.26
Saucony Type A Lifetime Miles: 627.15
Bare Feet Lifetime Miles: 446.12
Nike Double Stroller Lifetime Miles: 124.59
Neon Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1657.61
Brown Crocs 3 Lifetime Miles: 1359.62
Easy MilesMarathon Pace MilesThreshold MilesVO2 Max MilesTotal Distance

A.M. I had one of the oddest running experiences today. The negative odd is not that odd, as confusion exists in multiple combination, so to find more confusion is easy. It was positively odd, for which I was thankful as order is scarce.

Based on my past experiences I knew that for me several days in a row of at least 3 miles at sub-6:00 pace result in progressively increasing fatigue and deteriorated performance. So based on that, and the results of the tempo run yesterday, I was expecting to be in a condition where maintaining 5:50 pace would be difficult, the leg would feel dead, etc. So the logic would dictate that I should rest. But I was still curious what would happen, as there was something different this time. In all of those runs, while I was unable to go faster, the pace did not feel like it was knocking me out as much as before. So intuitively I felt there was some value in picking up the pace because I was receiving and responding to the continuous feedback on my form from my Running Form Coach, and I felt that I needed to go at least a couple of miles for the learning to take place, and the pace needed to be sub-6:00. Additionally, during the easy part of the run, which included 3 miles with Benjamin, 2 with Jenny and Julia, 1 with Joseph, and 0.5 with Jacob, my legs felt unusually springy.

So I decided to start the tempo, and if it was obvious that I was more fatigued that yesterday, discontinue it as soon as possible. I planned to start it exactly 3 miles away from my house on the way to the Provo Canyon, but the plan was sabotaged by the flooding under the University Parkway bridge. So I decided to just start it at the closest mark and go until I ran into construction on I-15 which would give me a little over 2 miles. To my surprise I went through the first mile in 5:41 on a less than ideal setup (two sharp 90 turns, bumpy trail, going under the bridges) and it felt easy. The next one was 5:35 on a slight downhill, but still with a couple of bridges. I was almost at the construction point but I felt good enough to want to go further, which is a good sign. It means that there is a solid reserve of energy. You first reach the point of not wanting to run more at the target pace, then not being able to do so quite a bit later.

I decided to do a 180 and run backwards. This would be a real test of fitness. Third mile, 180 turn, bridges, net uphill. If there was fatigue, it would definitely show. I managed a 5:41 on that mile, pushing some, but without a superhuman exertion, which gave me 16:57 for the 3 miles. During the entire run the buzzer was more silent than usual, mostly fussing only when I hit the bumpy portions of the trail.

During the cooldown I ran into Jerry Henley. We had a good talk. He saw me during the end of my tempo and observed that my form was smoother than normal. This was another interesting coincidence, as back in 2002 he mentioned that I would not be able to run 2:25 on the Ogden course without a fluidity fix to my form. I have pondered his comment since quite frequently. He was dead right. I have not been able to run 2:25 on the Ogden course. The best my form could give me was 2:30:02, and that was backed up by some serious endurance. Also, this is the first time I've run into Jerry during a run in probably at least 5 years, if not more, and for it to happen right at the time when I would want him, and I mean him in particular, to look at my form is perhaps more than just a coincidence. 

So what did the trick? Running Form Coach instruction finally caught up? The fitness is finally there, and a better form is a part of it? I have been messing around trying to understand the cause of my imbalance, and this morning just intuitively tied my legs together at the knees and tried to walk. It felt like the imbalance went away, so I stood and walked around like that while I read the scriptures and got ready for the run. Could that have stretched something? Who knows what did it, but at least I can say the combination works, so do the combination, do not mess with the magic recipe.

Gold Crocs 2 Miles: 13.75
Night Sleep Time: 7.50Nap Time: 0.00Total Sleep Time: 7.50
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